Emirates Greeks special report
Text by Hrach Kalsahakian
Photos by George Tseligkas
Map by Google with the addition of "Orthodox Church - Jebel Ali" caption
The construction of this much-awaited church has begun in the summer of 2007. It is the first Greek Orthodox Church in the Gulf region with distinctive Byzantine design.
Saint Mary Greek Orthodox Church is built on 1.800 square metres plot of land in Jebel Ali, donated by Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai. It will accept worshippers in November 2009.
The initial cost estimation has been 15 million dirhams (US$ 4.1m). Believers contributed with real enthusiasm in building the church by making donations or offering materials.
Before this church, members of the Greek Orthodox church in Dubai were obliged to use other churches for their services, such as the Holy Trinity Anglican Church and Saint Mary Catholic Church in Oud Metha in Dubai or the Armenian Church in Sharjah.
The Greek Orthodox services usually attract as many as 300 people in normal days (usually holy mass is celebrated on Fridays), but during Orthodox major feasts, like Easter and Christmas, the number may pass 1000.
The new church has a main hall with a capacity of about 400 worshippers, plus an adjacent space for a further 100.
Much of the work on the basement of the church was done without charge by a contractor and efforts were made to raise the remaining funds by money or material donations.
Services will be conducted in Greek and Arabic. Worshippers hail from Middle East Christian Arab communities, Cyprus and Greece.
Russians and Ukrainians may use the church at specific times, to cover their spiritual needs.
In Abu Dhabi, Saint Nicholaos Orthodox Church functions as a separate church inside Saint Andrew's Anglican complex. It has the shape of a normal hall transformed to a place of worship.
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The Greek Church is located in Jebel Ali, on the back side of Jebel Ali Hospital.
Take Exit 25 on Sheikh Zayed Road (on the way to Abu Dhabi), after Ibn Battuta exit. Go to the opposite side, over the bridge and follow the sign for Jebel Ali Hospital. There are at least three churches in the vicinity, including the Coptic Church. The Greek Church could be easily identified by its outer shape.
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I was very touched to read your article on the Christian Orthodox Church! At last a much awaited project ready to bring the Community closer together and provide shelter for those who seek spiritual enlightenment.
A big thank you to Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai for this great donation and contribution towards the Christian Orthodox worshippers of the UAE and thank you to all those who have helped in the making of the Church.
07 October 2009